Offering Peace, Ending Lonliness Through Christ
Some years ago in Atlanta there was a news report circulated about two lonely women. One of them had spent $35,000 on dancing lessons just so she could be close to someone. The other, though perfectly healthy, went around town in a wheelchair with hope that someone would come along and offer to push her.
We all know what it is like to feel lonely. Loneliness is Friday night with nowhere to go, eating lunch by yourself, saying “no” when everyone else is saying “yes,” having no one to talk to, having the sole responsibility for making an important decision, losing a loved one. Time Magazine a few years ago said loneliness was the major illness of modern society. The Bible even portrays Hell as a form of loneliness, as eternal separation from God. Jesus can help us meet and manage the threat and pain that loneliness can bring to our lives.
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you (John 16:12-14).
Have you ever been there at a painful goodbye? When someone was moving away? When someone you loved was preparing to die? There are situations in hospitals and homes where people want to make it right and try to tie up the loose ends. Now we see Jesus desiring to say more to us than we can bear. But He knows that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who follow after Him. The Holy Spirit will guide into truth... he will speak to us from the Father (Romans 8), and will reveal what is to come. The Spirit glorifies Jesus.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).
God’s game plan is not only to get people into heaven, but to also get Himself into people on earth! So not only does Jesus promise us His Spirit to be with us, He lets us know more about his understanding of loneliness...
1) Jesus understands our loneliness
A. Jesus witnessed the loneliness of others. During His earthly ministry He saw it in the eyes of lepers, heard it in the voices of the blind, and felt it in the touch of the pressing masses.
B. But even further, as our texts reminds us, Jesus Himself was left alone.
- We do not usually think of Jesus as being alone. We see Him in crowed streets, teaching with multitudes before Him.
- But we also need to see Him in Gethsemane in prayer, on trial before Pilate, climbing the hill of Calvary. The loneliness of leadership, of not being understood, of being abandoned and rejected—He knew them all.
2) Jesus teaches us the true meaning of loneliness
A. We commonly associate loneliness with isolation. Yet, in this text Jesus distinguishes between the two.
- We often surround ourselves with crowds to keep from being lonely. But, in reality, crowds can be very lonely places.
- By the same token, isolation does not necessarily result in loneliness.
B. For the spiritually healthy, solitude provides an occasion to cultivate our relationship with God.
- Jesus sought the solitude of the desert and the garden to meditate upon the will of God for his life.
- Paul received revelations in the desert of Arabia.
- Many saints through the ages have cherished their solitary moments for the opportunities they present to reflect on spiritual things.
C. Why then is the pain of being alone so great for so many people?
- We associate the emotional pain of rejection with being alone
- We don’t like the company we have when we are alone
3) Jesus shows us the way to live with loneliness
A. We, like Jesus, can live with loneliness by abiding in the presence of the Father.
- By faith, Jesus knew God was with Him even though all others might abandon Him.
He promises His own continued presence for those who go forth to serve Him (Matthew 28:20).
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 18:20).
We can also live with loneliness by sharing in the fellowship of the believing community (Matthew 18:20).
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20).
- Jesus is present in worship
- Jesus is present in community
At this point, Jesus moves from teaching them about loneliness and returns to the topic of peace; you have noted that several times during these last 3 episodes Jesus has been concerned with this topic. Our own peace of mind, peace of heart, and peace of soul is of major concern to Jesus.
“You believe at last!” Jesus answered. “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home.You will leave me all alone.Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:31-33).
4) Jesus brings peace to those who follow Him
I saw a Peanuts cartoon with Lucy saying to Charlie Brown, "I hate everything. I hate everybody. I hate the whole wide world!"
Charlie says, "But I thought you had inner peace."
Lucy replies, "I do have inner peace. But I still have outer obnoxiousness."
5) The peace of Christ comes with the presence of Christ
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:15-17).
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